I don’t believe in co-incidences in life so the night I came to get involved in VC32 plight, I believe was fate. Even though I was in training for the half marathon in June, on that particular night I was too tired to go for a jog. My folks rang and they were going for a walk so I mustered up the energy and tagged along. We are all from Grange and walked to Ballyphehane. I have passed the Vita Cortex factory a million times in life but that night as we passed the gates, I looked up and saw one of the VC32 standing in the window. Mum is big on current affairs and we had a chat about the situation the whole way home. My main emotion was sympathy and I felt so much empathy for the people in that canteen. I instantly imagined it being my brother, father, mother, cousin etc up there.
I called in shortly afterwards and that first visit cemented my support for the VC32. In life I believe in strong morals, values and ethics which I choose to embrace as best I can and (leaving aside the horror of the situation) and I am heartened to see these traits in other people, namely the VC32. Their strength, the commitment to their beliefs, their friendship to one another and good will and appreciation of all their supporters won me over.
Every time we call in the workers welcome us with a smile and an offer of a cup of tea. I have brought my sons to see the VC32. At the weekend Leo, my eldest asked “Are we going to the brave people mammy?” (although he really only wants the sweets that the workers line his pockets with every time, what 5 year old wouldn’t!) I will tell Leo and AJ too (when he is older) about the struggle of the VC32, when ordinary people became extraordinary in a battle between what is right and what is wrong. I will tell him about the people who stood strong and said that no it is not ok to treat decent human beings like this, people who stood up for what they believed and did so with grace and dignity. I continue to be amazed by what you are doing and I will continue to support you all until the end. You’ve sort of changed my life in a way (that I find hard to explain actually), perhaps just to say that you’ve taught me the value of courage. I found this quote which I am going to finish with
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever”
With love, respect and great hope for you,
Karen O’ Mahoney and her mother Helen with Greg at the rally in Cork City.
I first heard about the Vita Cortex plight on 96fm news, and joined the facebook page a few days later. It was early days in the struggle and I think there were 60 followers at the time. Hailing from Grange and going to primary school in Turners Cross, the factory was a landmark I passed by most days while growing up. One of my first jobs was working in Ferrero back in the early 1990’s for a few years so I was horrified that 32 Cork locals were reduced to sitting in a cold factory day in day out because they were been refused redundancy that they were entitled to. The more I heard about the situation, the more angry I became. With my mother Helen feeling the same way, we went along to the factory, the march and the vigil to offer support. We also called in one evening and were made feel very welcome by the workers there at the time, Cork banter being on top of the list. Mum and Greg got talking about the olden days, like the Majorca dance hall and I had a chat with one worker in particular about Christy Brown (ha ha!). Although I noticed the workers were in good spirits, I could recognise the tiredness and the toll it was taking on them.
I am shocked and angry that this is still going on 100 days later. The corrupt government has done nothing in my opinion to intervene and as usual it is the ordinary hard worker that gets the short straw. Meanwhile the owners appear to go about their daily business without a care in the world. The last few years have been very tough on everyone in Cork and around the country, with job losses, pay cuts, rise in inflation. The stand the Vita Cortex workers have made came at a time when we could not take anymore.
Each one of the 32 workers should hold their heads up high and be proud of what they have stood up against. I really hope they get a resolution very soon.
Keep her lit.
Karen O’ Mahoney